NaNoWriMo Lessons: one thing I learned

I guess I hadn’t realized how much I learned during NaNoWriMo last year, until I began writing my novel this year. I finished my 50,000k manuscript last November which was, as I’ve said before, a big mess. In fact, there have been many times in the last year I thought I’d wasted my time. It almost kept me from doing NaNo again this year. I wasn’t sure I could justify spending a whole month carving out 2 – 3 hours a day to write.

But here is one thing I learned, and I am reaping the benefits big time in my novel this year.


Most novellers will know this means Butt-In-Chair, which I managed to do a good deal of in this last year. I tried to write every weekday, and of course I missed many days. But what I did end up with was two journals full of writing. And you know what? Some of it is pretty good.

So how is this helping me in NaNo this year? I get to use what I wrote in my novel! I started flipping through my journals and found that while I couldn’t use 95% of what I wrote, there are bits of stories that work (with rewriting) in my NaNo story. And sometimes I’ll find just a sentence that really sings, and so it has found a home in my novel.


  • If you did NaNo in the past, what are you finding that you learned?
  • If it’s your first year, what are learing about yourself or the novelling process?

3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. dayner
    Nov 12, 2010 @ 17:30:56

    As you know, it’s my second year. First and foremost, I’ve learned to plan better. I also don’t stress the word count. If I don’t hit my mark it’s not going to be the end of the world. I’m hoping to have something I’ll be proud of by the end of the month.
    I can also agree with Shaddy, my work days are much longer during November. Thankfully we have a couple of holidays.


  2. Shaddy
    Nov 12, 2010 @ 10:14:14

    I learned last year and am realizing again this year that I function well when I’m in a pressure cooker writing situation which is exactly what NaNoWriMo offers.

    I should know that I perform better under pressure from past experiences. When I played racquetball years ago, I’d play well under normal circumstances but if I was in a tournament, I’d play exceptionally hard and focus better, resulting in success. That’s just the way I’m wired, I reckon.

    I’m learning that I enjoy jumping around between the events of my novel. Normally I’ve written in a linear fashion. Since November 1st, since I’m writing what I call a mystery, I’ve been focusing on the kidnapper, then I’ll leave him and write about the victim’s parents and then about the kidnapper’s sister and then the victim’s grandparents and so on and so forth. One scene gets a chance to simmer for a while before I go back and stir it up again.

    I’ve had to keep a notebook beside my laptop so I can keep track of where I left each individual so I can easily continue on when I return to his part in the story.

    I’ve also had to do some research, another first for me.

    In other words, I’ve been challenged and pleased with my writing this year. What more can I ask for considering I was totally unprepared when I began.

    The hardest part for me is getting through my day at work, anticipating how my writing will go once I get home and finally sit at my laptop. I’ve been antsy and irritable but that’s just the way writers are when they’re in the process of composing, right?


    • Kathan Lewis
      Nov 12, 2010 @ 18:21:26

      You know, one thing I learned from last year (that I didn’t enjoy) was what you said…not writing a linear story. Last year I my story was very linear…I ended up throwing in dreams and stuff to break it up, but that got old. This year, I am definitely trying to back and forth between some different things that are happening to my MC (some suffering, some good), to break up all the horrible stuff happening to hear. Plus it makes for a more intersting writing process!


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